City Hall Dispatch: Words are slippery things
Three days after the mayor's umbrage on our colleague Michael Frazier's use of the word maintain
and two days after the mayor's umbrage denial and one day after Bloomberg press spokesman Stu Loeser put forth the following account:
like most New Yorkers, and most people, the mayor doesn't like being called a liar. If we need to go over the meaning of the word maintain, I can. It's exclusively used to refer to an allegation that is either not backed up by facts or in contrast to facts, as in: The courts has ruled seven times that Mr. Jones is a pedophile, but he maintains they are all cases of mistaken identity."
The pictured sign made its way onto the walls of Room 9:
as well as:
And as our sister blog Spin Cycle put it:
What it does show is that Loeser lacks an understanding of both language and logic. In the sentence he has constructed, Loeser could use "says," or "contends," or "insists," or "argues." Because he has set up a scenario in which the pedophile is obviously lying, any word he inserts will be infected by the implication.
The word "maintain" is neutral, not accusatory -- it neither disputes nor endorses the pedophile/Bloomberg position. It expresses no opinion. Which is precisely what professional reporters are supposed to do.